What Exactly IS the Wait it Out Method of Sleep Training? WIO Defined

What is WIO?
WIO or the “Wait it Out” Method of sleep training is a method with a few core beliefs:

1- Independent sleep is developmental not behavioral. 
2- Needing comfort and closeness is an instinct not a preference.
3- Cries are communication not manipulation.
4- Babies can slowly and gently learn to be comfortable with independent sleep as they are developmentally ready.
5- The path each baby will take to independent sleep is unique.
6- The progression to independent sleep does not always feel like forward momentum.


So is WIO “doing nothing”? 

No.  For some families WIO is literally just waiting it out for as long as it takes. For other families such as mine the “waiting” is waiting out developmental milestones that cause increased needs. We actively pursue independent sleep through gentle nighttime parenting. We consider cries to be communication and we stay responsive to them.

So is WIO anti-CIO?
No. WIO is not anti CIO.  The two methods are very different approaches. One of the core beliefs of WIO is that cries are communication. Many methods of CIO take the stance that cries are manipulation. The methods and beliefs behind the methods are very different. WIO is not a reaction to CIO, it’s a very different method.

How do I WIO?
There is no one size fits all magic sleeping method of guaranteed success. Each parent has a toolkit. The tools that fit in this toolkit are going to be unique to the parent and the child. Tools that work for one parent will not work for the other parent (even with the same child). Tools that work for one child will not work for another child (even with the same parent). Tools that work at one developmental phase might not be needed at another developmental phase.  (WIO Toolkit: http://nurshable.com/2012/09/13/the-wait-it-out-toolkit/ )

What if things get worse when I WIO?
Progress doesn’t look like one two three baby’s born and does these things and then sleeps. A baby moves through different milestones and will typically experience different periods of disrupted sleep due to developmental milestones, growth spurts, teething and illness. This is normal. These phases are commonly called “regressions” but they’re actually a part of PROGRESS towards independent sleep. http://nurshable.com/2012/11/16/sleep-associations-sleep-regression/

Do I have to co-sleep in order to WIO?
Absolutely not. Co-sleeping doesn’t work for everyone. It’s one tool that might or might not fit in your toolkit. Some babies will take well to cosleeping. Others will not. Some parents will feel safe cosleeping. Others will not. Cosleeping will improve sleep for everyone in some families. In other families it will not.

Do I have to breastfeed in order to WIO?
Absolutely not. Breastfeeding can make WIO easier in some ways. But if you’re not breastfeeding you can still WIO.

Is there any science behind WIO?  

Here is a variety of links that talk about normal infant sleep collected by myself and members of the WIO support group on facebook. Some of these links focus on CIO. I am including these not because they are “anti CIO” but because they explain why responding to your baby is appropriate.

http://kellymom.com/parenting/nighttime/sleepstudies/

http://neuroanthropology.net/2008/12/21/cosleeping-and-biological-imperatives-why-human-babies-do-not-and-should-not-sleep-alone/

http://worldbabyreport.com/maternal-infant-sleep-study-rebuttalmoms-and-babies-deserve-better/

http://babygooroo.com/2012/08/nighttime-breastfeeding-maternal-mental-health/

http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/sleep-problems/5-reasons-why-high-need-infants-sleep-differently

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130107110538.htm

http://resources.thefeministbreeder.com/babies-toddlers/babywearing/babywearing-beyond-the-cute-baby-carriers/

http://www.ahaparenting.com/ages-stages/newborns/case-against-ferber-sleep

http://www.parentingscience.com/sleep-tips.html

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/parenting/why-i-no-longer-believe-babies-should-cry-themselves-to-sleep/article622978/ 

http://www.kathydettwyler.org/detsleepthrough.html

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201112/dangers-crying-it-out

http://www.drmomma.org/2009/12/sleep-training-review-of-research.html?m=1

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/1998/04.09/ChildrenNeedTou.html (added 7/20/2013) 

  2 comments for “What Exactly IS the Wait it Out Method of Sleep Training? WIO Defined

  1. morgan
    April 27, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    I’m sorry I think this is bs. My daughter is as perfect, independent sleeper and we used the CC method. It worked for my family, but this wouldn’t work. I don’t believe this is teaching them anything but that they can do whatever they want without consequences.

    • sarah
      April 27, 2015 at 4:17 pm

      Hi Morgan,

      I’ve used this approach with three children who are all perfect and independent sleepers. I understand that you prefer the CC method and feel that it works for your family. I do not use controlled crying or other forms of CIO sleep training, so I write about the method that I do use. Just like a writer that uses controlled crying would write about controlled crying to support those that choose the method and to teach others about that method.

      Since this approach is specifically related to sleep and providing a comforting environment at night, I don’t see what it has to do with “whatever they want without consequences”. For example, if my child wants to leave the bedroom after bedtime, that is not an option. It is also not an option for them to turn on the lights and the television and have an all night movie marathon.

      If you have specific questions that you would like to have answered I’m happy to answer them. It sounds like you are making some guesses about what the WIO method is, based on your preference for another method. :)

      -Sarah

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